Bentham Project


Scotch Reform

During an extended analysis of procedural and adjective law Bentham developed a work titled Scotch Reform; considered with reference to the plan... for the regulation of the courts, and the administration of justice, in Scotland. A version of the piece was printed in 1807, the first published edition appeared in 1808, and a second edition came out in 1811 with further material added.

The work is presented as a sequence of letters addressed first to Lord Grenville, in 1806 the First Lord of the Treasury, and next to Lord Eldon, Lord Chancellor from March 1807. The letters span a considerable range of topics within the field of civil law procedure. Besides discussing a number of specific proposals on the formation of English and Scottish appeal courts, the role of juries and the value of written and oral testimony, Bentham also includes reasons for his interest in the subject, as well as a comprehensive outline of his aims and objectives.

The manuscript body relating to Scotch Reform in UCL's Bentham archive differs considerably from the work published, and consists of several thousand folios. Early indications are that a substantially new edition will eventually appear as part of the Collected Works of Jeremy Bentham. All manuscripts relating to Scotch Reform have been transcribed and are available for consultation.

Tony Draper

This research was funded by the AHRC